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The date was January 24, 794 AUC, during the very beginnings of the illustrious Roman Empire’s decline, and atop Rome’s highest hill, the Palatine, citizens of the great nation beared witness to one of the most devastating and darkest moments in the cities history; the assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; more commonly known as Emperor Caligula.
Reigning since the year 790, being raised to the position of emperor following the death of his adopted grand-father Tiberius, the senate was brought to apprehension due to his corrupt, more-so-often inexperienced rule, and after a number of years, most members of the senate were brought to their knees in an attempt to control, or perhaps just subterfuge the growing power of the princeps. Caligula’s refusal to back down to the senators, and his eventual attempt to expand the powers of the position of emperor saw to him gaining many powerful enemies among the Patricians, an event that would eventually lead to his murder. This build-up in opposition against the emperor over his four years in power eventually transpired into one motion against the supposed tyrant in the year 41. The goal was simple; the death of Caligula and his immediate family.
Headed by a member of the Praetorian Guard named Cassius Chaerea (Cassius also being the name of a conspirator who plotted against the original Caesar eighty-five years earlier), the members of the mass conspiracy now numbers upwards of one hundred, mostly comprising of members of the Praetorian, Patrician, and Equestrian classes, each waiting anxiously for the sign of the emperor’s death. A three man squad, again headed by Cassius, were drawn to the peak of Palatine hill where Caligula was busy being entertained by a young troupe of performers. Whilst addressing the youths, Cassius moved against the emperor, accosting him before taking his knife and plunging it into the tyrant’s body. Over and over again, around thirty times in total, Caligula was forced to the floor in a bloody mess, the entire populace surrounding him and his conspirators watching on as they too took arms against his immediate family, killing the empress Caesonia and their young daughter Julia Drusilla, smashing her head unto the wall.
The murder however, did not stop there, for when the most loyal members of the Germanic Guard were sent the news, a mixture of both rage and disgust swept across them as they brought their pain down onto any assassin, conspirator or even innocent they came across. Whilst this was occurring, Cassius took it upon himself to break the original terms of conspiracy, sending out a “death squad” in search of the remaining members of the imperial family. Sympathetic to the senate’s cause to return both itself and Rome to its former glory as a republic, the conspirator’s leader called for the heads of all reaming imperial family members, and those who could possibly take power as a monarch.
Some members of the imperial family, however, managed to escape the moment Caligula died; Tiberius Claudius Nero Germanicus and his pregnant wife Messalina fled for their lives, Claudius taking leave to hide in the royal palace, whilst his wife managed to escape alongside a number of Praetorian Guardsmen. Claudius' refuge however, did not last, as members of Cassius' "death squad" managed to uncover him, murdering him instantly. Claudius, the strongest pretender to the principate, was killed, his death eventually leading to the anarchy that followed.